(note: scroll to the bottom of the post for the audio version!)
That is a very legitimate question. In fact it has come to me in many forms.
“That’s a great blog post you shared, please tell Sophia how much I enjoyed it.”
“I saw that blog post, I can’t find anyone named Sophia Sojourn on Facebook though”
The answer to the question is simple: Sophia is not a “who” but rather a “what.” To be very specific, it is a “journey to wisdom.” The name started with the boat. It didn’t have a name when I bought it and all boats need a name. As I moved aboard, I was overwhelmed by my need to revaluate every thing I ever understood about God, humans, church and myself.
It was clear to me that I didn’t need more knowledge (though I can always use more knowledge); I needed to grow in wisdom.
This was long before I read any books or blogs from Rachel Held Evans. The name Matthew Vines nor any of his research and writing had not crossed my path. David Hayward (the Naked Pastor) and his visualization of Sophia was not at all on my radar. The one figure that did play into my thoughts was much, much older.
Largely considered one of wisest writers of all time, King Solomon was given the opportunity to ask anything of God he thought he might need to be an effective king. Instead of military success, financial resources or personal glory, Solomon asked God for wisdom. God gave it to him in spades. He also enjoyed the benefits of a powerful, wealthy kingdom and with this excess, explored life and all its possibilities. Ultimately it was not the pleasures of life satisfied him, – in fact he declared them to be in vain – but it is his wisdom writings that have made his name endure through the centuries.
I remember as a teen, in the midst of my own struggles, making this same request of God: grant me the wisdom to navigate all that life throws at me. Only time will tell if God granted that request; and that likely won’t be known one way or the other until long after I am gone from this world. But the pursuit of wisdom has never been far from my heart and mind.
That journey led me to the decks of an aging houseboat that needed a name. I combined “Sophia”, the Greek goddess of wisdom, from whose name we get words like “philosophy” (the love of wisdom) and sophisticated (wise in the ways of the culture) with the alliterate “Sojourn,” a middle-English era word from the French “Sojourner” – a person who travelled to many places, but only stayed a short while in each one. That is really the intent of this journey; to find wisdom in new places but to not dwell in any single place too long.
There are too many facets to our lives for us to assume the luxury of becoming complacent.
Our identities are too complex to simply sit on a single concept such as gender, sexuality, faith, reason, mental health, physical health, love, joy, etc. All of these are valuable, even crucial to understanding ourselves and the way we relate the world around us, both physically and spiritually; but our journey has to keep us moving though each of them at a pace that is always pushing us just slightly out of our comfort zones.
The line between knowledge and wisdom is pencil thin. The two are at the same time inseparable and worlds apart. Some would say that wisdom is applied knowledge. Some have suggested that knowledge is what comes from reading and studying while wisdom is what comes from living and learning as we go. In my experience, the pursuit of knowledge without the desire for wisdom will leave one dry and empty. Conversely, the desire for wisdom without the pursuit of knowledge will ultimately drive one to be a leaf on the wind, floating about at the whim of popular culture and the most current trends of spiritual teaching and thinking.
Knowledge and wisdom are equal partners in this journey, working together to bring balance to our steps as we tediously more forward.
When I launched the blog, the name seemed to fit there just was well as it did on the boat. As that is growing into more of a life’s work, the name seems ever more apropos. It serves as a reminder of the goal and the process, the wisdom and the journey.
The focus of our new organization is to encourage people on their own journey toward wisdom; to help them see their own steps forward as they heal from past hurts, rethink past convictions and sometimes desperately seek to find a future in the cloud that surrounds them. Through empowering people to tell their own stories, providing one on one coaching through major life changes, and working with churches and corporations to help them be more effective in their own works of inclusion and compassion, I hope to launch more and more people into sojourns of their own.
Perhaps in that sense, Sophia Sojourn is a “who.” It is each and every one of us, created in the image of a loving God and moving ever closer to understating all that means in these lives as we live them.